Often when restoring a historic church or school, a large bronze bell is needed for the bell tower. The bells are difficult to find because many have been sold as scrap and melted, and others are too heavy to be moved for a reasonable price. But a vintage bell often is less expensive than a new one. A bronze bell that sold a few years ago had the name "Vanduzen and Tift" molded into the metal. It identifies a Cincinnati maker, a partnership founded in 1837. The partners made top-quality bells during the 19th century. The bell that sold also was molded with a date, which was worn but appeared to be 1864. A four-digit number on a cast-bronze bell indicates the year of the casting. The mold for a cast bell can be used only once. The mold is broken to get the bell out after it cools. If a small bell is marked with a date, it probably is a design patent, because the mold can be reused. Vintage bells of all sizes often need to be cleaned or restored. A cast-bronze bell should not be painted. Once it's cleaned, it should be left to develop its natural patina.
Q I have a Windsor chair that my parents bought in the early 1930s. It is 44 inches high and has a fan back with nine straight spindles and two brace spindles. The chair is black with gilt striping. On the bottom there is a metal medallion that reads "The Simonds Furniture Co., Syracuse." Can you tell me more about my chair?
A Elgin A. Simonds was a business partner of Gustav Stickley in the late 1890s in Syracuse. In 1898 Stickley bought out Simonds, who then bought the Hayden & Couch Chair Manufacturing Co. of Rochester, N.Y., and formed the Brown & Simonds Co. That company was renamed the Elgin A. Simonds Co. in 1901 and became part of a consortium of furniture manufacturers. The Simonds company made faithful reproductions of traditional furniture. Windsor chairs made by Simonds sell for $100 to $350.
Q The white sailboats on my cobalt-blue tumblers are discolored. Is there any way I can clean them without losing the sailboats? I also have some tumblers with white windmills that have the same problem.
A Your tumblers are part of the Sportsman Series, made by the Hazel Atlas Glass Co. in the 1940s. Designs featured sailboats, golf, hunting, angelfish and windmills. The pattern was made in amethyst, cobalt blue and clear glass, with fired-on decorations. The sailboats and windmills are being removed by the very hot water and detergents used in a dishwasher. Wash the tumblers by hand.
Q I have an old Cuff 'n' Collar Maker with original patterns and attachments. It was made by Wheeler & Wilson of Bridgeport, Conn., and lists patent dates in 1850, 1851, 1852 and 1865. It is not a regular sewing machine. No one I talk to knows what it is.
A Wheeler, Wilson & Co. was founded by Allen B. Wilson and Nathaniel Wheeler in Watertown, Mass., in about 1851. Wilson was a cabinetmaker who patented his first sewing machine in 1850. The company became Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Co. in 1853 and moved to Bridgeport in 1856. At one point, it was the largest manufacturer of sewing machines in the world. The detachable collar was invented in 1827, and detachable cuffs in about 1845. Wheeler & Wilson designed a sewing machine to make collars and cuffs as well as shirts, and claimed that an operator could make "80 to 100 dozen collars" in a day by using its machines instead of sewing the collars by hand. The company also made several other special sewing machines, including machines for buttonholes, corsets and boots. Wheeler & Wilson was taken over by Singer Corp. in 1905, but sewing machines under the Wheeler & Wilson name continued to be made until 1913.
Q I have an autographed photo of Satchel Paige in a baseball uniform. What is its value?
A Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (1906-1982) was a professional pitcher who played for many different teams during his long career. A black player, he had to pitch in the Negro leagues before the major leagues were integrated. In 1948 Paige debuted in the majors with the Cleveland Indians at the age of 42, making him both the oldest player ever to debut in MLB and the seventh to integrate it. Paige pitched for the Indians, St. Louis Browns and Kansas City Athletics before ending his career in 1966. In 1971 Paige became the first player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Negro leagues player. An autographed photo of Paige in his Browns uniform recently sold for $253 at auction.
Q I have an old hand-cranked candy-making machine. It has several attachments to make lozenges and other hard candies. The label on it reads "Thos. Mills & Bro. Inc., Confectioners & Bakers Tolls, Philadelphia." What is it worth?
A Thos. Mills & Bro. was founded in Philadelphia in about 1864 by Thomas and George Mills. The company made equipment for confectioners, bakers and ice-cream makers. It was best-known for its clear toy candy molds and other confectionary equipment. A Thos. Mills & Bro. candy press identical to yours with extra attachments recently sold for $529 at auction.
Tip: Do not put an alabaster figure or vase outside. Alabaster is softer than marble and will eventually fall apart if exposed to rain.
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